Picks and Pans Review: Soul Almighty—the Formative Years, Vol.1

updated 07/15/1996 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/15/1996 01:00AM

Bob Marley

Before he became the dreadlocked messiah of reggae in the mid-'70s, Marley (1945-1981) yearned to expand his musical horizons beyond his native Jamaica. The big prize was America, and Marley saw the fervent rhythms of R&B and soul as his ticket to ride. So, in 1967-68, Marley and his backup singers, the Wailers, recorded these nine soul-based songs in Jamaica with some of Aretha Franklin's musicians. On this meticulous restoration of those sessions, producers Joe Venneri and Arthur Jenkins have remixed songs like "What Goes Around Comes Around," which has a deep, bubbling bass line, for the dance-club crowd. Others, like the modest R&B ditty "Splish for My Splash," just percolate along with the distinctive if then-nascent rhythm called reggae. It was not until Eric Clapton had a hit with Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff" in 1974 that the rest of the world "discovered" the Rastafarian's musical gifts. But years before, as this collection of gems attests, Marley was sowing the seeds of greatness. (JAD)

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